Netherlands vs Costa Rica World Cup 2014: How kit maker Lotto won thanks to a punt on Costa Rica
The Central American side are the only remaining nation not sponsored by either Nike or Adidas
Wednesday 02 July 2014
Costa Rica are the biggest surprise among the last eight nations in Brazil. It may be worth putting your shirt on them to win the tournament – the odds on them triumphing in the final are 50-1 in places – but the current fashion is to put their shirt on your back.
The success of Los Ticos, as the Central Americans call themselves, is a rare triumph for a smaller kit maker, who have been increasingly squeezed out by the major brands. The Costa Ricans are the only nation whose kit is made by Lotto Sport Italia – they are the only team in the last eight who are not sponsored by Adidas or Nike – and sales in the UK and across the world multiplied 20-fold following the nation’s qualification for the second stage.
Simon Forster, a manager at DW Sports in Derby, has reported a sharp rise in their kit sales. He said: “Everybody loves an underdog and this has certainly been reflected in the demand for their strips.”
He added: “Originally we were not going to stock any of their kits, but due to a sudden demand we brought them in and they are selling really well.”
It is not because England fans had to find another strip to wear after Costa Rica qualified for the second stage ahead of them in Group D, but being drawn in the same group has certainly raised awareness of the Latin American team.
“Their profile was definitely raised when they played against England and even more so now that they have progressed further in the competition, seemingly against all the odds,” said Forster.
The Italian manufacturer’s president Andrea Tomat has said: “We have far fewer resources than the major brands, so we have to work with someone that can be an underdog, someone that can come from behind and has something a little special.”
Joel Campbell in action against Italy
The company is struggling to keep up with the demand, and it has been reported that an extra 50,000 shirts have been sold since they won their opening game against Uruguay. Major UK retailers such as Sports Direct have almost completely sold out of their online stock.
Lotto took a chance on Costa Rica by beginning their association with them before the 1990 World Cup in Italy when they fielded a number of amateur players – but still beat Scotland and Sweden.
As Los Ticos reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, after starting the World Cup as 4,000-1 outsiders, their progress gives hope to the smaller kit suppliers as well as the lesser footballing nations.
Tomat said: “We are now having trouble organising some fast production to let everyone have this shirt that will become a memory of a historic achievement.”
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